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Dr. William H. “Bob” Bailey – One for the Ages

July 23, 2014 by  
Filed under Community

With the passing of the legendary Dr. William H. “Bob” Bailey, personal reflections take the measure of a great man


Men are often called great after they have passed on. No one was better aware of this axiom than my father, Dr. William H. “Bob” Bailey — a man who achieved international renown by living every moment to project love and passion in all that he pursued.

Entertainer/Host Dr. William H. “Bob” Bailey while with the Count Basie Orchestra in the mid 1940s.

Entertainer/Host Dr. William H. “Bob” Bailey while with the Count Basie Orchestra in the mid 1940s.

He once shared with me that his goal was to be remembered.

Mission accomplished. He bequeathed to us a lifetime of memories and milestones. If anyone ever achieved greatness with a life well-lived, it was this man.

Husband and father who loved my mother, Anna, and his entire family fiercely and without compromise. Protector and provider who delighted in keeping us together and strong.

Living example who showed me the power of love and mutual respect. In 63 years, he never stopped gazing with wonder at my mother, their love always a safe haven.

Communications pioneer and community leader, who stood alongside other giants in Las Vegas and beyond, leading fights (often, literal ones) against discrimination, bigotry and segregation.

Spiritual force who made time stand still by filling every day with security, love and happiness. Whose extended blessings for our table provided an invaluable foundation of humility and gratitude.

Morehouse College classmate of Martin Luther King Jr., whose uncommon intellect brought victories in the battle for justice and equal opportunity.

Motivator who made sure the days were always very busy and full in our home, whose work ethic is encapsulated in a single memory: taking me up to Mount Charleston to study and recite until the multiplication tables were mastered.

Friend whose welcoming spirit frequently resulted in my awaking to find him on our couch holding forth with the likes of Sammy Davis Jr.

Traveler who shared his love of adventure by providing our family with a wealth of new experiences and places visited.

Animal lover who didn’t blink when one of our childhood pets, Rebel (a gift from the legendary Redd Foxx), developed a deep affection for my brother and barked at Dad whenever he had the nerve to reprimand his own son.

Cultural renaissance man who filled our ears with music, loved to entertain and lived life to a rhythmic beat that emanated positive energy.

Natural educator who broadened horizons for my brother, John, and I by giving us the knowledge of a proud black African ancestry.

Giver who, even in his final days, showed tremendous love and support for those closest to him. As we cared for him, he used some of his precious final breaths to say “thank you” for an honor that was all ours, and his last vestiges of energy to give loving glances that we will cherish forever.

He is now a cornerstone in the ancestry that brought him so much pride, and inspired in him a quiet dignified confidence with the power to transform the world.

If he lives in eternity as he did on Earth, Bob Bailey is rejoicing in heaven with those who went before him, as he has now gone before us.

The gift of his life more than earned him the wish of a lifetime. Dad, we don’t just love you. We remember.

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